Grease star Olivia Newton-John has died aged 73
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Grease star Dame Olivia Newton-John has died aged 73, her family has confirmed.
They said she 'passed away peacefully' at her home in Southern California surrounded by family and friends.
John Easterling, Olivia's husband, wrote a statement which read: "Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends.
"We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.
"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer."
It continued: "In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).
"Olivia is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall."
The Grease star immortalised the role of the Sandy, the high school student who joins Rydell High and transforms in a bid to win the affections of love interest Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta.
The 1978 film and its accompanying soundtrack – still much loved more than 40 years later – catapulted Dame Olivia to international fame, although she had already scored a healthy level of success in her native Australia and in the UK.
The youngest of three children, she moved with her family to Melbourne when she was five.
By her mid-teens, she was already carving out a career as a budding star, having formed a girl group with classmates called Sol Four at the age of 14 before winning a talent contest on Australian TV show Sing, Sing, Sing and a trip to the UK.
Dame Olivia later formed a partnership with a friend from Melbourne, Pat Carroll, with the pair touring Army bases and clubs throughout the UK and Europe as the double act Pat and Olivia.
In 1974, she represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Long Live Love, and came in fourth place in the year Abba won with Waterloo.
She experienced further pop music success in the years following Eurovision, before the career-defining role in Grease arrived in 1978.
Initially, she was apprehensive about the role, worrying that she was too old to play a high school student (she turned 29 while filming in 1977).
However, after insisting on a screen test with co-star Travolta, she took the part.
Grease was an immediate success, becoming the biggest box-office hit of 1978.
Arguably the most beloved musical of all, Grease’s popularity has endured and the cast reunited when the film celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018.
Following the film, Dame Olivia returned to her music career, boosted by Grease. She continued performing and releasing music until her death.
She married actor Matt Lattanzi in 1984 and the couple had a daughter, Chloe Rose, in 1986.
The couple divorced in 1995. In 2008, she wed her second husband, businessman and conservationist John Easterling, and they remained married until her death.
After being given the first of three cancer diagnoses in 1992, Newton-John became a prominent breast cancer campaigner.
Following her initial battle with the disease, she had a partial mastectomy and reconstruction.
She remained cancer-free until a recurrence in 2013, then in September 2018 Dame Olivia revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in three decades, telling Australian news programme Sunday Night that doctors had found a tumour in her lower back in 2017.
The singer said she was treating the illness 'naturally' and was using cannabis oil made from marijuana her husband grows in California to alleviate the pain.